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Leon Spinks, the former Marine who beat Muhammad Ali, died

Muhammad Ali vs. Leon Spinks. Photo by Colorsport/Shutterstock.
Muhammad Ali vs. Leon Spinks. Photo by Colorsport/Shutterstock.

Until February 15, 1978, he was unknown. But that day Leon Spinks got immortality by defeating Muhammad Ali for him World Boxing Council (WBC) world heavyweight title. It was for points and in the decline of the legendary boxer, but that did not detract from his milestone. Almost 43 years later, on February 5, he died after several complications with his health at the age of 67.

It was Friday, but just today he reported his death Firm PR, the public relations firm that represented him to Spinks, who had suffered from prostate cancer Y other tumors for five years. He died with his wife by his side Brenda Glur Spinks, detailed the aforementioned firm. His family announced in December 2019 that he had been hospitalized for treatment for prostate cancer that had spread to the bladder.

The former boxer was born in St. Louis on July 11, 1953 and was Marine between 1973 and 1976. At that point he already began to fight in a amateur and in 1976 he won a gold medal at light heavyweight at the Montreal Olympics. At the time of his first fight against But in Las Vegas, had disputed alone seven fights in his professional career. Leon was 24 years old and the veteran champion, 36, and was in the twilight of his historic career.

It was a 15-round bout and handed Ali a harsh punishment in the final seconds of the bout, leaving him without reaction. The split decision went to Spinks, who showed his famous wide-toothed smile after becoming the only wrestler to take a title from Ali. Suddenly, the surprising protagonist became the world heavyweight champion, proclaiming the memorable phrase: “I am not the greatest. Only the last”.

Fight Leon Spinks and Muhammad Ali

That mythical fight was the climax of Spinks’ career as, first, he was stripped of the title of the World Boxing Council (WBC) for refusing to defend him against top contender Ken Norton. Instead, he chose a rematch against Ali, who regained the World Boxing Association (WBA) title in a unanimous decision, seven months after his first fight, and that would be the last victory of his career..

Spinks fought once again for the heavyweight title, in June 1981, with a TKO loss to Larry Holmes and the WBC belt at stake. He was then relegated to the cruiserweight division, but lost his only title shot to Dwight Muhammad Qawi in a sixth round TKO in 1986. Spinks retired at age 42 after losing a unanimous decision to Fred Houpe, in 1995, and ended his career with a 26-17-3 record (14 knockouts).

After also participating in wrestling and mixed martial arts later on, Spinks faced financial and medical problems. After moving to Las Vegas, Spinks married Brenda in 2011. The two were seen often in boxing-related activities, including entering Spinks inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame in 2017.

Boxer Cory Spinks (l) gets a hug from his father, former middleweight champion Leon Spinks after losing a fight.  EFE / MIKE BROWN / Archive
Boxer Cory Spinks (l) gets a hug from his father, former middleweight champion Leon Spinks after losing a fight. EFE / MIKE BROWN / Archive

In 2014, he suffered intestinal damage and was hospitalized after swallowing a piece of chicken bone and underwent multiple surgeries. His health problems were compounded in 2019 by having to receive treatment for prostate cancer.

Owner of great charisma and popularity, he was a member of a family of boxers, where his brother Michael Spinks also won an Olympic medal, but at middleweight, in the same games where he participated. Leon forged a professional career where he accumulated 26 wins, 14 knockouts, 17 losses and three draws in 18 years in the pay field. Leon is also the father of former boxing champion Cory Spinks.

He passed away this Friday, but 43 years ago he achieved eternal glory by beating Muhammad Ali. It was when Leon Spinks went down in history and became a legend.

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Kim Diaz

Kim recently joined the team, and she writes for the Headline column of the website. She has done major in English, and a having a diploma in Journalism.

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